Diarrhea Home > Stomach Flu in Children

When someone gets the "stomach flu," it is not actually a "flu" at all. While the illness can also occur in adults, the problem is a special concern in children -- they are at a greater risk of dehydration. Oral rehydration is often used as treatment; in severe cases, fluids may need to be administered intravenously. In most cases, symptoms improve after 1 to 10 days.

Children and Stomach Flu: An Introduction

Stomach flu is an intestinal infection caused by several different viruses that can result in diarrhea and vomiting. Highly contagious, stomach flu is the second most common illness in the United States. It causes millions of cases of diarrhea each year.
 
But the so-called "stomach flu" is actually not stomach flu at all. Viruses that cause stomach flu affect the small intestine, not the stomach. Furthermore, stomach flu viruses are not flu viruses. The flu virus is the influenza virus, which affects the respiratory system. The influenza virus does not affect the intestines.
 
Regardless of the inaccuracies of the term "stomach flu," it is the most commonly used term to describe what healthcare providers call viral gastroenteritis.
 
Other names that people use to describe this illness in children include:
 

Types of Stomach Flu in Children

Many different viruses can cause this condition in children. The most common types include:
 
Each stomach flu virus has its own seasonal activity. For example, in the United States, rotavirus and astrovirus infections occur during the cooler months of the year (October to April), whereas adenovirus infections occur throughout the year.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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